Marrakesh Do's and Don'ts
Best places to go to see the real Marrakech:
Stay in a riad in the medina (old city) of Marrakech. Experience the calm and peace of a riad after the hustle and bustle of the streets. Staying in the old city means you are living among locals for an authentic experience of Marrakech. Choose one with a hammam and spa in order to experience the fabulous feeling after a scrub in the hammam followed by a relaxing massage.
Best place to buy souvenirs:
The souks – colourful, large array of goods,
Average cost of a meal:
Depends where you eat:
Cheap and cheerful: at the main square, Place Jemaa el Fna’, can be around 30 dh per person
If you want a more upscale restaurant, you can spend anywhere between 50 dirhams to 150 dirhams and up.
What locals eat and drink:
Street food: Go to one of many small eateries for a tanjia – beef, lamb or chicken. Ask for the one with beans. You’ll be served a small earthenware pot containing the marinaded meat that has then been baked in embers (often at the local hammam where wood is burned to heat the water). Flat bread is usually served. About 15 dh per pot.
You’ll also find small stores that serve homemade sweetened yogurt (raiba) cakes and other sweet pastries and also make fabulous fresh, fruit juice right in front of you. My favourite is an avocado drink made with milk. Also great is a panache which is a blend of fresh fruits. Cost about 8 dirhams.
As an ex-pat I love discovering new cafés in the medina where I can relax and rest in lovely surroundings: my latest favourite is Krem Kafé 7, part of the Palais Khum, on the Rue Dar el Bacha. It’s on the left-hand side if you’re coming from Dar el Bacha (Governor’s Palace) with sentries stationed outside.
What you should not miss:
Going to the main square, Place Jemaa el Fna’ during the day AND around dusk when the food stalls set up and it becomes even busier. Sit on a rooftop café sipping mint tea or orange juice and just watch the crowds below.
If you’re tired towards late afternoon, take a horse and carriage (stationed at the south side of the main square opposite the Koutoubia), and ask them to take you either around the ramparts, through the gardens, to the Menara gardens and back. It’s lovely to sit back and slowly watch the scenes unfold as you pass by. horse and carriage tour 1 hr should cost around 150-200 dh.
What tourists should absolutely not do:
Try and plan a route through the old city – it’s futile. Best to have some idea of the different quarters and where they are in relationship to one another and head in the general direction. Just be happy to get lost, you will find your way again. Most people are making their way to some major exit so you can follow along and you’ll come out somewhere that you can identify. It’s not a good idea to stand consulting your map of Marrakech. Don’t engage with locals telling you the way to the square – who would be only too happy to lead you there and then expect payment. If you’re truly lost, then ask a lady or a shopkeeper who are unlikely to tag along behind you. Or ring the riad and we will be happy to come and find you.
Even locals don’t know all the street names – and many are not marked and if they are may be in Arabic only. So it’s best to know the name of the quarter you want, e.g. Riad Larouss, Sidi ben Slimane, Ksour, etc.
If you find it all a bit daunting, don’t worry, we’re on hand to help to ensure you get the best of out of Marrakech.